Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Jazzed Up" National Anthems, Hats, Hearts, and a Wartime World Series - a Big League History of National Anthem Etiquette

When the Chicago White Sox faced the New York Giants in the 1917 World Series, the games reflected the patriotic mood of the country in the wake of its entry into World War I:

The most impressive moment of the afternoon was when, just before play was begun, the band began to play “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The whole great throng rose to its feet as a man and uncovered until the national air was completed.

They were not white sox.  They were red, white and blue sox.

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), October 7, 1917, Sports Page 1 (Game 1 of the 1917 World Series).

The Chicago White Sox, featuring legendary outfielder, Shoeless Joe Jackson, found themselves back in the World Series for the first time in more than ten years.  They won the American League pennant that year with a franchise record 100 wins (against only 54 losses) –  a record that still stands.  They were an offensive and defensive juggernaut; leading the league in both runs scored and ERA (2.16).  They would beat the Giants in six games that year.  When they returned to the World Series in 1919, after an off-year in 1918, they would lose to the Cincinnati Reds – ON PURPOSE! No longer “red, white and blue sox”; they  were the “Black Sox”. 

But 1917 was a happier time in Chicago, the home of “jazz.”  Before game 2 of the 1917 World Series, the band “jazzed up” a national anthem and the crowd rose in unison, the men taking off their hats, with some of the ladies likely putting their hands over their hearts.  It may have been the first major, public, national event at which all of today’s basic national anthem rules of etiquette were widely followed; a pop-version of a patriotic song, and standing, removing hats and placing the hand over the heart for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

“Jazz” music, and the word “jazz,” itself, were both new at the time; and had only recently become a household word outside of Chicago and the far-West.  The practice of standing and removing hats during the national anthem was also new enough at the time to garner specific attention in the press.  The now-customary practice of placing hands over the heart was barely three months old.  An unreliable pitcher, the playboy grandson of a former President of the United States, and the wife of a Brigadier General may each have played a role in the development of one or another of these now-familiar customs.

[UPDATE September 5, 2016: See my new post, A Stand-Up History and Origin of the National Anthem at Sporting Events, for examples of the anthem at the baseball games from as early as 1890.]

The Star-Spangled Banner and the World Series

The World Series is nearly as old as the custom of singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the series.  The World Series has been played annually since 1903 (with the exception of 1904, when the owner of the New York Giants took his ball and went home).  Although Major League Baseball’s official historian dates the first performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at a World Series game to September 5, 1918,[i] evidence suggests that the custom dates back to at least 1913; and may extend back even further:

Until this year it has been the custom to start each game of the world’s series by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  During this series, the Boston rooters asked that they be allowed to open the seventh inning with the national anthem.  That might have been good form in Boston, but Brooklyn citizens missed the usual opening.

The Washington Times (DC), October 12, 1916, page 10 (see video of the 1916 World Series between the Red Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers here).   

The World Series was only about twelve years old at the time.  How long does it take for something to become “custom”?  I imagine at least a few years – and perhaps all of the way to the beginning in 1903.  

We know it was performed at least in 1915; even though President Woodrow Wilson and his fiancé, Mrs. Galt had no idea – they were behaving badly:

[B]oth the President and Mrs. Galt appeared to be so much interested in each other that they not only overlooked some of the most stirring points of the game, but also the fact that the band was playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

A band also played the anthem before a game of the 1913 World Series between the Giants and the Phillies:

Stand Up for Anthem.

As the big band finished its part of the entertainment it played “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and before the few measures were rendered the great crowd rose as one man to its feet, doffed its headgear, while even the players stopped their warming up and stood with bared heads while the nation’s anthem was being played.  In the same connection it was notable that in the great array of pennants and bunting at the Polo grounds there was no American flag in sight.

The Omaha Daily Bee (Nebraska), October 8, 1913, Daily Sport Extra, page 10.

"Chief" Bender - Native-American pitcher and hero of Game 1 of the 1913 World Series.  When not pitching, he was a feared base coach - "unquestionably the greatest signal thief in the history of baseball." The Omaha Daily Bee (Nebraska), October 8, 1913, Daily Sport Extra, page 10.

I could not find any specific reference to the Star-Spangled Banner at any World Series earlier than 1913.  

That we would still be singing the Star Spangled Banner before baseball games one-hundred years later was not a foregone conclusion; the Star Spangled Banner wasn’t even our national anthem (at least not officially) at the time – nor would it be, until 1931. 

In 1917, the band “jazzed up” one of the “national airs.”

“Jazzing Up” the National Song

The unconventional singing of the national anthem can generate controversy.  Jose Feliciano, for example, was famously (and unfairly) booed for his swingin’, Latin-tinged acoustic performance before game 5 of the 1968 World Series.  I guess some people unaccustomed to the style of music felt that it did not have the appropriate dignity. 

Over the years, I have rolled my eyes at a succession of young pop-divas throwing musical curveballs.  I am not as uptight about the lack of decorum or dignity in their performances, as I am amused by their attempts to squeeze more runs into one song than two teams typically score in an entire series.  A nice, clean, fastball – straight over the plate – is usually a safer bet.  But my personal favorite may be the least conventional – Jimmy Hendrix’ Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock in 1969.

Surprisingly, perhaps (given the vehemence of the negative reaction to Jose Feliciano in 1968), the practice of “jazzing up” the “national” song during the World Series is nearly as old as the custom of singing the national anthem at the World Series itself.  Before game 2 of the World Series, the band “jazzed” up the “national hymn,” America – at least they had the good taste to play the Star-Spangled Banner straight:

The band found a sunny spot on the field back of third base to-day and kept up a musical barrage fire for the phalanx of song pluggers who annoyed the inoffensive atmosphere with noises before the game.  When the band began jazzing up “America” with many variations the Chicagoans stood with heads bared.

The band was playing it for one-stepping purposes, but the citizenry labored under the impression that it emanated from patriotic motives.  The error is surprising in view of the fact that Chicago is the home of the jazz.  In New York the boys would have intuitively grabbed themselves partners and started reeling up and down the field.

Afterward the band in all sincerity played “The Star Spangled Banner” and again the crowd stood at attention.  This time the musicians thoughtfully left off the jazz notes.

Chicago Examiner, October 8, 1917, page 9, column 2.

Since the United States did not have an official “National Anthem” in 1917,[ii] “jazzing up” up America was nearly the same as “jazzing up” the Star-Spangled Banner.  Although the Star-Spangled Banner had long been considered the de-facto “national anthem” (it was referred to as such, at least informally, as early as 1843[iii]), it shared top-billing with, America, in many people’s minds. 

The United States Army and Navy, however, gave top-billing to the Star-Spangled Banner by as early as 1916; the general public was not quite up to speed yet:

As I understand, our Government and, above all, our people recognize two patriotic songs, “The Star Spangled Banner” as an anthem and “America” first and foremost as our national hymn.  On the other hand, our military and naval departments, much less our people, pay formal tribute to “The Star Spangled Banner,” which is our national anthem.

University Missourian (Columbia, Missouri), April 20, 1916, page 3.

That there is a lamentable ignorance, or else a worse indifference, regarding the conventions and duties of citizenhood, is very evident when a large number of American citizens take no notice of the playing of America’s national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, and do not even bother to remove their hats when the music begins. . . .  Maybe, some people do not know what the national anthem is.  Some think it is “America,” but it is not, now-a-days.

The Maui News (Wailuku, Hawaii), May 4, 1917, page 4.

During the 1917 World Series, the United States was in the midst of a wave of patriotism brought on by its entry into World War I.  People were just then becoming accustomed to thinking of the Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem, and were learning the proper etiquette; standing and removing one’s hat.

After game 1, a patriotic journalist gushed:

The most impressive moment of the afternoon was when, just before play was begun, the band began to play “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The whole great throng rose to its feet as a man and uncovered until the national air was completed.

They were not white sox.  They were red, white and blue sox.

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), October 7, 1917, Sports Page 1.

Through the magic of YouTube, you can watch video of game 1 here.  The numerous flags and (presumably) red-white-and-blue bunting draped throughout Comiskey Park testify to the patriotic mood of the time.  You can see also see video of games 3 and 4 at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Before game 3:

A few minutes before the Chicagos took the field to practice Mayor Mitchel was escorted across the field by a platoon of police to the mayor’s box in the grandstand.  The band then played “The Star Spangled Banner” while the thousands stood with bared heads.

Evening Star (Washington DC), October 10, 1917, Base Ball Extra.
In game 4:

While the White Sox were taking their fielding workout the band played “The Star Spangled Banner,” while the spectators stood with bared heads.
Before play began the Giants assembled at second base, and each, with a flag of the allies of the United States, marched toward the plate, while the band played “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

Evening Star (Washington DC), October 11, 1917, Base Ball Extra.

Chicago, Jazz, and the White Sox

It is not surprising that Chicago was the site of the first “jazzed up” version of a “national” song before a World Series game.  Chicago was, after all, the birthplace of the word, “jazz,” as applied to the new musical genre.  The word was borrowed from “Western slang,” in which “jazz” meant pep or vim.  Coincidentally, the Chicago White Sox were present in California at the precise moment that the word, “jazz,” emerged from the primordial slang-soup and crawled into the mainstream print-media.

The word, “jazz,” is attested from as early as 1912; when it was first reported as the name of a pitcher’s new, can’t-miss curveball.  Before his first start of the 1912 season, Ben Henderson, a pitcher for the Pacific League’s Portland Beavers (a notorious drinker who had once been blacklisted for violating the reserve clause) hyped his new curve; the “jazz” (or “jass”) ball.  Although the pitch did little to salvage his career (see my earlier post, Ben Henderson’s Trouble With the Curve), the word survived and eventually thrived.

The word disappears from the written record at the moment Ben Henderson disappeared (he went AWOL on a drunken binge, shortly after introducing his “jazz” ball); emerging again one year later at spring training for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.  This time, the word had more staying power.

In March, 1913, “Scoop” Gleeson wrote of the Seals’ pre-season enthusiasm:

Everybody has come back to the old town full of the old “jazz” and they promise to knock the fans off their feet with their playing.
What is the “jazz”? Why, it’s a little of that “old life,” the “gin-i-ker,” the “pep,” otherwise known as enthusiasalum [sic]. A grain of “jazz” and you feel like going out and eating your way through Twin Peaks.

San Francisco Bulletin, March 6, 1913 (see also, my earlier post, Is Jasbo Jazz, or Just Hokum and Gravy).

Years later, “Scoop” Gleeson claimed to have learned the word from another sportswriter, “Spike” Slattery, during spring training in 1913.  Both Gleeson and Slattery made regular use of the word “jazz” throughout the rest of 1913.

The Chicago White Sox were also there.  In fact, Art Hickman, an early, successful “jazz” bandleader, picked them up at the station.  Bert Kelly, an early jazz banjo player who may be responsible for first applying the word “jazz” to a musical genre, may have been there too (he is known to have been there during spring training in 1914).[iv]

The word “jazz,” in the sense of vim or pep, was used in several Western states into at least 1916.  Meanwhile, Bert Kelly left San Francisco and moved to Chicago, where, in 1914 (or 1915) he claims to have been present at a wild movie industry party (Chicago’s Essanay Studios were one of the leading studios of the day) at the moment the word “jazz” was first applied to music.[v]  Within two or three years, “jazz” music was all the rage; and even the “national hymn” was fair game for reinterpretation.

Today, we take it for granted that most people will stand and remove their hats during the Star-Spangled Banner.  It seems to have been a notable occurrence in the 1910s, however; accounts of the 1913 and 1917 make special mention of the removal of hats and the baring of heads.  In 1913, the practice of removing one’s hat for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner was still relatively new and not well established.

Removing Hats and Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant’s grandson, Algernon Edward Sartoris, was reportedly, “the first man in Washington to set the example of removing his hat when the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was being played.”[vi]  It is not clear, however, when he may have popularized the practice.  At the time (1898), Algernon was just 21 years old.  Although best known as an heir to an English country estate and “leader of cotillions, ornament of afternoon teas, club man and dilettante,”[vii] Algernon was an officer in the Army during the Spanish-American War; at same time that the practice of standing and removing one’s hat during the Star-Spangled Banner first received significant notice in the press.  As a high-profile Washington socialite, he could well have helped popularize the practice there, before shipping out.

Ironically, Sartoris – Ulysses Grant’s grandson – served under Captain Fitzhugh Lee, a former Confederate Cavalry General and nephew of Grant’s Civil War nemesis, Robert E. Lee.  Algernon Sartoris, however, was no career soldier (are there any career soldiers named Algernon?).  He signed up to impress his childhood sweetheart and fiancé, Edith Davidge; whose failure to love him for the man he was eventually drove him away.  But first, it drove him into the Army; and from there to Cuba – and later the Philippines.  She was unimpressed.  

The St. Paul Globe (Minnesota), April 24, 1904

After the war, she encouraged him to seek honest work doing honest labor.  He appeased her by signing on at the bottom rung of the ladder at Westinghouse Electric Light Works in Pittsburgh; where he schlepped a lunch pail to work every day in coveralls, and worked twelve-hour days, six days a week, for $1 a day; manly yes – but perhaps not the ideal career choice for a former “ornament at afternoon teas” who could still afford to be an ornament at afternoon teas.  He soon left the drudgery of the factory, left his fiancé behind, and boarded a ship for France to marry his other childhood sweetheart, Mlle. Cecilia Noussiard, of Paris.

Although Algernon Sartoris may have popularized the doffing hats during the Star-Spangled Banner in society circles in Washington DC, in all likelihood, he did not originate the custom.  A plaque in Tacoma, Washington marks the spot where Rossel G. O’Brien, a Civil War-era Brigadier General, is said to have first proposed the stand-and-remove-your-hat rule at a meeting of the local chapter of a national Civil War veterans’ group in 1893.[viii] If true, O’Brien was apparently an early proponent of the rule, and may even be responsible for introducing the rule to Tacoma.  It is unlikely, however, that the rule originated with him; or that his proposal ignited a national trend. 

[(Coincidentally, the man who coined the word "Dude" was a also a fixture in Tacoma high-society in 1893.  Perhaps he and the General crossed paths. See my earlier post on the History and Etymology of "Dude.")]

In 1898, at the height of the Spanish-American War, and in the middle of an intra-service squabble between reservists and regular Army officers at Army posts in Kansas, a high-ranking, career military officer said that rule originated at United States Military Academy at West Point.  He also said that our sacred, patriotic custom of standing and removing one’s hat during the playing of the national anthem was first introduced by – wait for it – foreigners:

No little amusement has been excited among army officers at the articles which recently have appeared commenting on the fact that volunteer soldiers stationed at different posts in this vicinity have been seen to remove their hats when the national airs have been played by the military bands, and adding that no regular army officer was ever seen to do this.

An army officer yesterday, of high rank, speaking on this subject, said: “The custom of removing the hat when the national airs are being played has been in vogue for many years among the men of the regular army.  I can remember the time when the practice was not observed generally.  It first started in the West Point Military academy, and was introduced there through example of various officers of foreign armies who visited the place.

“It was noticed that whenever any of our national airs were played the foreigners invariably would remove their hats and stand until the music ceased.  This patriotic example was contagious, and it was not long before the beginning of a national anthem by the post band was the signal for every cadet in the hall to rise and stand uncovered.  Since then the practice has spread until today it is an uncommon thing to see a regular army officer who does not observe it.”

The Topeka State Journal (Kansas), July 4, 1898, page 4.

It's not clear from his comments how long the custom of standing and removing hats had been followed at West Point, but we know that they stood for the "Star Spangled Banner" at West Point as early as 1889.   At an unveiling ceremony for portraits of Generals Grant, Sherman and Sheridan at West Point:

The address was followed by "The Star Spangled Banner," played by the band, the audience standing.

The Chicago Tribune, October 4, 1889, page 2.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by an international Pan-American delegation who were in the middle of an American tour.  Two months later, the same delegation witnessed a very different kind of protocol at the close of a joint session of Congress in Washington DC, attended by the President, Vice President, the Supreme Court and all members of the House and Senate.  They played the "Star Spangled Banner" at the end of the session, and instead of having everyone stand still, they left the room during the song:

Washington's Grand March was rendered by the marine band.  The martial strains having ceased, the vice president declared the joint assembly dissolved, and to the stirring air of the "Star-Spangled Banner" the invited guests slowly left the chamber.

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), December 12, 1889, page 6.
But ten years later, with the rules of ettiquette more firmly established, and as the Spanish-American War rolled on, the practice was picked up by other foreigners; in places liberated from Spanish rule – or at least that’s how news reports seemed to paint it:

That is the Fashion When the Band Plays
“Star-Spangled Banner.”
Special Cable Despatch to The Sun.

Ponce, Porto Rico, Aug. 4. – The Reception of the American Army in Porto Rico continues in an “Oh, be joyful” way.  From Guayama, a town where the Spanish were said to be gathering and intrenching, the people sent word to Ponce that all the Spaniards had gone and the populace were waiting to receive the Americans.  One company of troops was sent there and had a big reception.  The American flag had already been hoisted and everybody gathered around it.  When the soldiers came the people sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” in a mixture of Spanish and English.

At Ponce every time the band plays the “Star-Spangled Banner” the police run about and make everybody remove his hat.

The Sun (New York), August 4, 1898, page 3.

An American officer stationed in the Philippines wrote:

The natives are very musical and every evening there is lots of music in the air.  The other day I stepped in to listen to a very good string quartet.  You should have seen them open their eyes when I played a “Hot time” for them; they seem to think that this is our national air.  Yesterday Aguinaldo’s band came in and serenaded us.  They played “Dixie” “Yankee Doodle” and many other such pieces, ending with the “Star Spangled Banner,” removing their hats first.

Barbour County Index (Medicine Lodge, Kansas), February 22, 1899, page 1.

But not everyone was so respectful; or at least not for long:

No better illustration of the changed condition of affairs [(in the Philippines)] can be cited than the conduct of the natives who frequent the American army band concerts on the Luneta of evenings.  These concerts invariably conclude with the “Star Spangled Banner,” during the rendition of which every American present removes his hat and stands at “attention.”  Formerly this custom was imitated by the natives, but now the Filipino who pays any more respect to the American national anthem than to “A Hot Time in the Old Town” is a striking exception.

Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, Oklahoma), March 11, 1899, page 1.

Back in the United States, a report of the Army-Navy football game in 1899 reveals that standing and removing hats was already mandatory at the United States military and naval academies.  The sight of cadets standing for the national anthem appears to have been a novel sight at the time; civilians at the game liked what they saw and followed suit:

An Inspiring Incident.

While the Annapolis players in the football game between the military and naval cadets were tumbling about the filed on the occasion of the recent game awaiting the appearance of their rivals, the band which came with them began to play the "Star-spangled Banner."  At once every cadet within sound of the music, sailor or soldier, stood at "attention" and uncovered, as is the rule at those schools.  Every other military or naval officer present obeyed the instincts of his training.  There-at the audience of nearly 25,000 persons stood in silence and in an attitude of respect until the music ceased.  It need not be said that it was an impressive scene and a lesson that will be long remembered.

The Indianapolis Journal, December 11, 1899, page 4.

An admiral quoted in the same article said, "For nearly forty years I have saluted the flag of the United States uncovered and in the attitude of reverence;" suggesting that the custom of removing hats for the flag, and perhaps one or both of the national "airs," was already deeply rooted in military tradition.

Among civilians, the custom slowly gained wider acceptance in the years after the Spanish-American War.  In some places you had to remove your hat quickly – or suffer the consequences:

The Christmas decorations of bay leaves, pine needles and red ribbons and bells were still in place.  On a platform over the telephone booths sat the Seventh Regiment band, and when the gong rang at noon it struck up “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Men who didn’t remove their hats on hearing the first bar had them removed for them and shot into the circumambient air, whence they returned to be once more violently agitated and finally to disappear into the fourth dimension or the gallery.

The Sun (New York), January 1, 1905, page 13.

By 1909, some zealots even wanted to pass a law making it mandatory – thereby making a mockery of the “land of the free”:

One acrimonious patriot wants a law passed compeling people to remove their hats when “The Star Spangled Banner” is played.  Desirable as it is to thus show honor to the flag, a law compelling it would be a denial of the sentiment of the famous hymn.

Tombstone Epitaph (Tombstone, Arizona), August 22, 1909, page 2.

And again in 1913:

Some one has proposed that a law be passed compelling American citizens to salute their flag.  That is an excellent way to get the flag torn up.  Compulsory patriotism like hired friendship is a mighty treacherous sentiment.

Tulsa Daily World (Oklahoma), February 19, 1913, page 4.

Although the custom of standing and removing hats for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner gained ground throughout the early 1900s, it was not universally observed.  Even as late as 1913, standing for the anthem in a theater might get you in trouble:

Because he displayed his patriotism by standing in a local theater during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” J. Frank Wahl, formerly a sergeant of Company L, 2d Infantry, National Guard of the District of Columbia, according to his own story, was ejected from the theater.
The alleged ejection of Mr. Wahl occurred Sunday afternoon near the close of the performance.  Several musicians on the stage were performing for the last act played several patriotic selections, the medley ending with “The Star Spangled Banner.”  . . .

It was while Mr. Wahl was standing that the special policeman of the theater, he stated, came down and caught hold of his collar and pulled him into the aisle.

“What’s the matter?” Wahl said he asked the special policeman.  He declares the man replied that he would have to get out of the theater, and further that he was going to put him out.

Evening Star (Washington DC), October 21, 1913, page 2.

Progress was slow.  In 1916, the director of a Marine Corps band explained why he included special instructions in the program notes for people to stand and remove hats during the national anthem:

I simply placed this notice on the program to call the attention of some folks to the need for paying proper deference to the national anthem.

Many of those who attend the concerts of the Marine band do this, but others get up and walk away, many sit still, and some men seem ashamed to remove their hats until some one does it, then the rest follow.

The Daily Telegram (Clarksburg, West Virginia), July 21, 1916, page 6.

Men removed their hats; but what did women do – other than standing? 

Apparently nothing.  But that all changed in the summer of 1917.

Hands Over the Heart

The rule, to stand and remove one’s hat during the Star-Spangled Banner, grew out of a military custom of standing and removing their hats.  But, as most military veterans today would recognize, that is no longer the custom.  The original custom, now practiced by civilians, changed sometime between 1898 and 1914:

Not so very long ago it was the proper slant on things patriotic for a soldier to stand at attention, remove his hat, place it over his left shoulder and wonder what he was going to have for “chow,” as the band played the national air and the colors were brought in out of the weather for the night.  Now enlisted men and officer alike remain covered while the band plays “O say can you see,” only saluting with the right hand to the hat brim when the last note of the famous Francis Scott Key battle song reaches them across the alkali parade ground. 

El Paso Herald (Texas), May 15, 1914, page 3.

Civilians were encouraged to follow the older, hat-in-hand tradition; including the practice of placing the hat on the left shoulder:

Civilians, are expected to stand at attention with hats removed when the colors are passing or being passed and when the national air (the “Star Spangled Banner”) is being played.

El Paso Herald (Texas), May 15, 1914, page 3.

Men should remove their hats, and keep them over the left shoulder until the flag has passed.

The Commoner (Lincoln, Nebraska), July 1, 1917, page 10.

When performed using the right hand, placing the hat on the left shoulder puts the right hand just about where the “heart” is generally believed to be – at least for the purposes of “putting your hand on your heart.”

Women, however, were not asked to remove their hats.  Hat-fashion of the day may have made the suggestion impractical; large, complicated hats and small,  precarious hats were frequently attached to the hair by an array of pins, combs, and other accoutrement.  

There was also no precedent.  All of the rules emerged from the military, which was then an exclusively male institution.

What to do? – what to do?

In 1917, Katherine H. Harvey, president of the Woman’s Relief Association, National Guard of the Disctirct of Columbia, and wife of Brigadier General William E. Harvey, commander of the District National Guard, decided what should be done:

The inspiring sight of women standing “at attention,” with the right hand over the heart, may soon be seen in the theaters and open-air places of Washington, where the national anthem is played.  And in this Washington is expected to set a patriotic example for the nation.
Mrs. Katherine H. Harvey . . . suggested today that Washington women do something more than merely stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played.

If the men of the military service are required to salute, she says, the women of the nation, too, should have a salute, of their own, denoting devotion to the flag. . . . 

[She said,] “Of course, we always show our respect for the anthem by standing, but there is always a tendency to put on one’s gloves or hat or otherwise prepare to leave.  Few, indeed, stand at attention!

“Let us, the women of the Capital, make this a national custom.”

The Washington Times, July 27, 1917, page 4.

And they did.

It’s a good thing too.  Men’s fashions changed, and hats are no longer the norm – now I have a place to put my hand.  And, it provided a nice alternative to the straight-armed “Bellamy salute,” the creepy salute that accompanied the Pledge of Allegiance until Nazi-Germany spoiled it for everyone else.

Pledge of Allegiance - 1941


The tradition of playing the Star-Spangled Banner before (or during) a World Series game dates to at least 1913 World Series between the Giants and the Phillies.  The tradition may even date back to the first World Series in 1903; as suggested by reports critical of playing of the Star-Spangled banner to open the seventh-inning of World Series games in Boston in 1916.

The 1917 World Series may have been the first major, public, national event at which all of today’s basic national anthem rules of etiquette were widely followed.  Patriotic fervor had the men ready, primed and willing to follow the lead of Algernon Sartoris, Rossel G. O’Brien, and unnamed foreign military officers, by standing and removing their hats for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Many of those men may have placed their hats over their left shoulder, as was customary – resulting in their right hand being placed over their heart (hat-wearing was nearly universal at the time, so there were likely very few men in attendance who would not have had a hat to take off).  The women in attendance stood “at attention;” and many of them may have placed their hands over their hearts, as encouraged by Katherine Harvey just a few months earlier. 

The people of 1917 were also open to avant-garde or pop-arrangements of revered, patriotic tunes; without making too much of a fuss over it.

Play Ball!

[i] See, Doug Miller, “Key Connections: Star-Spangled Banner, Baseball Forever Linked,”, September 14, 2014.
[ii] See, “Key Connections: Star-Spangled Banner, Baseball Forever Linked,”, September 14, 2014.
[iii] The Madisonian (Washington DC), January 24, 1843, page 2 (“I wish to see an expression of the American Press with regard to the propriety and good taste of naming one of our ships of war after the lamented patriot and poet – the author of our national anthem – the Star Spangled Banner.”).
[v] See, Is Jasbo Jazz, or Just Hokum and Gravy.  Kelly gave two accounts; one, from 1919, reported that the first use had been in 1915; a second, from a letter he wrote to clear up the origin of the word, “jazz,” reported that the first use was in 1914.
[vi] “A Washington Widow; Mrs. Nellie Grant Sartoris, Bride-elect of General Douglass,” The Salt Lake Herald, June 26, 1898, page 20.
[vii] “The Tangled Romances of General Grant’s Grandson Unraveled at Last,” The Saint Paul Globe, April 24, 1904, page 31.
[viii] See “Tacoma Man the Reason We Stand for Star Spangled Banner,” Paula Wissel,, July 4, 2013.

Edited on 9/28/2017 to add references to the "Star Spangled Banner" played before the Pan-American delegation in 1889.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Charles Monk, Monkey Wrenches and a "Monkey on a Stick" - a Gripping History and Etymology of "Monkey Wrench"

In Orson Welles’ classic film, Citizen Kane, a newsreel crew spends the entire film looking for the meaning of Kane’s dying word, Rosebud.  The producer is hopefully optimistic; he muses, “it’ll probably turn out to be a very simple thing.”  But despite reading his banker’s diary, and interviewing his business partner, buddy, ex-wife and butler, the news crew never finds the answer.  

As the film nears its final frame, however, the viewers learn the truth.  In an incinerator, going up in smoke with the detritus of Kane’s eventful but ultimately empty life, the camera zooms in on Kane’s childhood sled – the sled he was riding when the bankers took him from his mother; the name on the sled – Rosebud.

The meaning of the cryptic term monkey wrench – “a wrench with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle” [i] – has similarly frustrated investigators.  The many twists and turns in the story have made it nearly impossible to get a firm grasp on the matter.  It may have turned out, however, to be a very simple thing after all.  An obscure, century-old reference provides a simple, plausible, Rosebud-like clue; the name may derive from a simple children’s toy – a toy that was popular throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s – a “monkey on a stick.”

But like Citizen Kane, we need to run through the entire cast of characters, sifting through all of the evidence, to fully appreciate the deceptively simple pay-off at the end.

Charles Monk

The traditional folk-etymology of monkey wrench holds that it was named after its inventor, Charles Moncky (sometimes Monkay[ii]), who sold his invention for $2000 and bought a small cottage in Brooklyn or Williamsburg, New York. The earliest example of the story I could find is from 1885:

We see it stated that such great manufactures as Krupp, Whitworth, Armstrong and Hotchkiss have to send to America for all their screw-bar wrenches.  About 80,000 dozen are exported to Europe annually.  The inventor, Charles Moncky, lives in a small cottage in Brooklyn.

Engineering Mechanics, November 1885, page 324.

The story was repeated dozens of times in various periodicals during the following few years; sometimes in nearly identical language, and sometimes adding further details:

That handy tool, the “monkey-wrench” is not so named because it is a handy thing to monkey with, or for any kindred reason.  “Monkey” is not its name at all, but “Moncky.”  Charles Moncky, the inventor of it, sold his patent for $2000, and invested the money in a house in Williamsburg, Kings County, where he now lives.  Iron, a London trade paper, says that 80,000 dozen Moncky wrenches are exported to Europe annually.  “The toolmakers and machinists of Euorpe,” says Iron, “such as Krupp, of Germany; Whitworth & Armstrong, of England, and Hotchkiss, of France, with their vast resources are unable to produce a Moncky or screw-bar wrench equal to the American wrenches, and consequently they have to import these tools from the United States.” 

Notes and Queries, Volume 4, November 1887, Number 11, page 408.

This apparently all-too-cute explanation is generally dismissed for want of actual evidence of invention.  There is evidence, however, that the man actually existed; and he may actually have lived in a small cottage in Brooklyn. 

The US Census for 1880 lists a man named Charles Monk, age 52, living with his wife and children at 190 16th Street, a quaint residential street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York.  His occupations are listed as – wait for it . . .  – “moulder and tool-maker.”  Is this the Charles Moncky of urban legend?

A molder makes molds used in the fabrication of cast-metal pieces at a foundry.  Charles Monk was more than just a working stiff, however.  He also manufactured his own line of molders’ tools.  The business appears to have been fairly substantial, as his tools were advertised in a tool-supply catalogue based in far-off Detroit, Michigan.  If the tools illustrated in this one catalogue are representative of his entire line of products, it looks as though he may not have made wrenches and the like; all of the tools pictured appear to be molders’ shaping tools, not mechanics’ tools:

Chas. A. Strelinger, A Book of Tools, Being a Catalogue of Tools, Supplies, Machinery, and Similar Goods
Detroit, Michigan, Chas. A. Strelinger & Co., 1895, page 290

Charles Monk is also absent from the old patent records; suggesting that perhaps he was not the inventor.  And, in any case, he was not old enough to have invented, coined, or inspired the term, monkey wrench; he would have been only twelve years old in 1840 when the earliest known accounts of monkey wrenches appeared in print.

Monkey Wrench

The earliest accounts of monkey wrenches that I found in print[iii] are all from the railroad industry.  Surprisingly, perhaps, the earliest example is from England, where what Americans call wrenches are generally referred to as spanners:

Every engine-man shall have with him at all times in his tender, the following tools, viz: a complete set of screw keys, one large and one small monkey wrench . . . .

1 January 1840 By Order of the Board of Directors [North Union Railway]

Five Reports from the Select Committee (of the House of Commons) on Railway Communication, Fifth Report, dated 10 July 1840 (North Union Railway), Appendix, No. 1 (North Union Railway), page 422.  A similar rule may have been in place on the Liverpool to Manchester line as early as March 1839. See, Whishaw (endnote iv), pages 211, 217.

This early locomotive regulation was soon co-opted and adopted by railroads in Britain, France, the United States and Canada; frequently copied verbatim.[iv]  In the United States, the “one large and one small monkey wrench” rule was included in a set of “Rules and Regulations for the Management of a Locomotive Engine,” adopted at the meeting of the United States’ Institute of Civil Engineers in 1845.[v]

Although the early paper trail, so far as I can tell, is entirely from the railroading documents, it is not clear that use of the term originated in, or whether its use was restricted to, the railroad industry.  But even if it had been so limited, it was not confined to railroading for long.  It appears to have been common and widespread, at least in other technical circles, by the 1850s.  In 1850 alone, Monkey wrenches were listed in requisitions of the US Army quartermaster in California and the US Navy Bureau of Construction in Washington DC, as well as in a British technical dictionary and an American magazine targeting farmers.  

American Farmer, Volume 6, 1850,  Pictorial Farmer (Baltimore)

Monkey wrench appeared with increasing frequency throughout the 1850s, and seems to have become very common by the 1860s.  The following item about possible fraud, waste and abuse in Civil War-era military procurement reveals that some things never change:

I found there that monkey-wrenches, the fair price of which was from twelve to fifteen dollars a dozen, were bought by the Navy Department at Portsmouth for $150 a dozen.

The Congressional Globe, Twenty-Eighth Congress, 2d Session, New Series Number 54, February 18, 1865, Page 851.

As technology advanced and mechanical contraptions became more common, familiar and accessible to regular folks in their everyday lives, the monkey wrench eventually earned a permanent place in pop-culture; but not until after it proved to be dangerous – at least in the wrong hands.  

[Update:  October 19, 2015.  Since posting this piece, I was able to find one earlier example of "monkey wrench" in print, from before Charles Monk was born; he was clearly not responsible for the name, or the wrench.  In August, 1826, William Darlington of Chester, England, was arrested on charges of stealing a "monkey wrench." One of the reports of the arrest seems to suggest that the term was not common:

William Darlington, aged [illegible], a bricklayer, was charged with stealing a piece of iron, called a monkey wrench, the property of . . . .

Chester Chronicle (Cheshire, England), August 11, 1826 (I only had access to an OCR excerpt of the article; but two other reports of the same incident reported that the "monkey wrench" was property of the "Canal . . . ." See, Chester Chronicle, August 4, 1826; Chester Courant (Cheshire, England), August 8, 1826).] 

Monkey Wrench in the Machine/Works

         Actual Wrenches

A monkey wrench is a very useful and versatile tool for maintaining and repairing machinery.  When handled carelessly, it can be just as dangerous:

Winfield Wickham, foreman in the box making department of a Cedar Rapids creamery and dairy supply house, met with a fearful accident.  While at work he dropped a wrench on a moving pulley which was revolving at the rate of 2,500 times a minute.  The high speed broke the wrench, and the pieces flew in different directions, the large, heavy end striking Wickham in the face.  His nose was crushed flat, and a deep cut was made in the right cheek just below the eye.

Iowa State Bystander, June 22, 1894, page 2.  

In 1903, Robert Gordon, an employee of the Paducah Cooperage Co. (they made barrels), was injured:

He was working near a machine when his wrench slipped and threw him into the planer.  His left hand was caught in the machine and the thumb badly cut.

The Paducah Sun (Kentucky), February 13, 1903, page 7.

In 1906, the village of McGraw, New York nearly burned to the ground because of a dropped wrench:

Wrench Dropped and Town Burned.  The little village of McGraw, four miles east of Cortland, was threatened with extermination by a fire early this morning which destroyed twelve of the fifteen stores and shops in Main st., with a loss estimated at $60,000. . . . An old fashioned hand engine constitutes the village equipment, and that was put out of commission at the start by one of the firemen dropping a wrench into the valve.

New York Tribune, January 29, 1906, page 3. 

The problem was common enough in 1910 that a technical journal included specific precautions against dropping wrenches into machinery:

While it is essential to use a great deal of care in working the knife on the stave machine – especially instructing the machinist not to drop his wrench in the machine, but to keep it in his toolbox, where it belongs when not in use . . . .

Barrel and Box (Chicago, Illinois), Volume 14, Number 3, May 1909, page 34.

         Metaphoric Wrenches

By 1907, the San Francisco Call put the dangers of mislaid monkey wrenches to metaphoric use:

The clearing house association has now laid a heavy hand on all this business.  Speculative banking constitutes, of course, but a small fraction of the financial system, but, like the man who throws a monkey wrench into a machine, it causes a temporary derangement and the wheels stop for a short space while repairs are made.

The San Francisco Call, November 2, 1907, page 8.

There appears to be an unfortunate impediment in the legislative reasoning apparatus, as if somebody had dropped a monkey wrench into the machine.

The San Francisco Call, March 10, 1911, page 6. 

Others soon followed:

New York, Aug. 16. – [A]t the opening of the present [baseball] season someone threw a monkey wrench into the works and the old machine buckled up.  In other words, the members of the team allowed spite and jealousies to creep in and the smooth running harmony, essential to a pennant race, was gone. . . .

The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), August 17, 1913, sporting section, page 4.

Quack press threatened to throw the monkeywrench into the works of Babb, Sheridan and Barber by neat first page double-leaded expose.  Heavy on the last syllable of exposay.  I believe it’s French.

The Day Book (Chicago, Illinois), June 2, 1914, page 13.

Curiously, the several reports of actual wrenches I dug up used the word, “wrench,” without monkey.  The several, early metaphoric uses, however, specifically refer to monkey wrenches.  Perhaps the word “monkey” is just more funny; or perhaps monkey wrenches were so ubiquitous that they naturally came to mind.

Monkey wrenches became common, household items, in large part, through the efforts of one man; Loring Coes, the inventor of the modern monkey wrench.

Loring Coes

Loring Coes was no Charles Foster Kane, but he was a successful businessman for nearly seventy years.  When he died in 1906, the New York Tribune noted his, “reputation of being the oldest man in the country actively engaged in the management of a big manufacturing concern.”[vi]  Although he did not invent the screw-wrench, or monkey wrench, he did invent a wildly successful new type of monkey wrench that formed the basis of his long-lasting business empire.  

Necessity is the mother of invention; but it wasn’t a new tool that Coes needed in 1841 – it was a new business.  His first business had failed; but not by any fault of his own.  It burned to the ground in 1839 and he needed to do something to change his fortunes.

Loring Coes and his brother Aury were carpenters.  Starting as apprentices, they quickly worked their way up the ladder.  In 1835, they purchased the firm where they were both employed; Kimball & Fuller, located at Court Mills, near Worcester, Massachusetts.  Their business (along with several others), however, were soon wiped out by a devastating fire in 1839.  

To help make ends meet and get their feet back on the ground, the brothers moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.  There, they put their carpentry skills to good use; working as pattern-makers at a foundry for two years.  It was during that period that Loring Coes perfected his idea for an improved screw-wrench.[vii]

When the Coes Brothers arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1839, it was already a hot-bed of screw-wrench technology.  It was home to Solyman Merrick, who had invented a successful improvement to the earlier, English screw-wrenches that were operated by twisting the handle.  The foundry where the Coes Brothers worked was precisely the sort of business that might have helped manufacture Merrick’s wrenches.  We do not know whether they had any specific contact with Merrick, but it seems likely that they may have had some exposure to the screw-wrench industry in Springfield.  But wherever they got it, they were inspired; their invention transformed the wrench industry.

Loring Coes, The New England Magazine, n.s., Volume 31, Page 486

         Earlier Wrenches

Screw wrenches date back to at least the early 1800s.  William Barlow, of His Majesty's Dock-Yard, Portsmouth, England, may have invented the first one in 1809.  He received a "Premium of Five Guineas" for his efforts:

I have found, from long experience, the imperfections of the various wrenches in common use, for the screw-heads and nuts of engines in general, which are often materially injured for want of an instrument which would fit variety of sizes, and be applied with as much advantage as a solid wrench. . . .

This wrench, by means of a nut and screw, is adjusted with the greatest ease to the exact size required, and in that state rendered so steady that in use it is found equal to a solid wrench.

Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture, Series 2, Volume 15, 1809 (London), page 44.

Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture, Series 2, Volume 15, 1809, Plate III, Figures 10-12.

Other adjustable wrenches, more similar to what were later called monkey wrenches, are believed to have been made or imported into New England as early as the late 1700s.[viii] Monkey wrench-type wrenches were well-established by 1825; and their drawbacks were already apparent:

The screw-wrenches in general use are actuated by a screw which passes up the middle of the handle, which so much weakens them, that they are frequently broken in that part when used in heavy work; and the chaps [(jaws)] are liable to open and be loosed from their hold by the handle turning round.

The Register of Arts and Journal of Patent Inventions (London), volume 2, Number 42, April 23, 1825, page 281.

In 1835, Solyman Merrick, of Springfield, Massachusetts, solved one of the problems inherent in the English wrench.  By adding an adjustment nut to the shaft, just above the handle, he made it possible to adjust the position of the lower-jaw assembly without twisting the handle.  The shaft was therefore more stable during use, reducing inadvertent opening or loosening of the jaws during use.

Loring Coes’ wrench, patented in 1841, solved two more problems.  His wrench was stronger and could be adjusted by the thumb of the hand holding the wrench; leaving the second hand free.  Coes introduced a separate screw-assembly, mounted at the top of the handle, alongside the shaft.  The screw assembly moved the lower jaw portion of the wrench up and down along the shaft.  Since the shaft was not threaded and did not have to be round, as with earlier wrenches, the shaft could be made flat and wider in the direction in which torque was applied; thereby reducing the likelihood of bending or breaking the shaft.  An actuator wheel located at the bottom of the screw assembly let the user adjust the position of the lower-jaw assembly with the thumb of the same hand that held the wrench: "Look ma, one hand!"

Figure 1 shows Loring Coes improvement over Merrick's wrench with the screw on the shank, represented by Figure 2.

Each type of adjustable monkey wrench, English, Merrick, and Coes, shared one thing in common; a lower-jaw assembly that moved up and down the shaft of the wrench – like a monkey up a tree, or the popular children’s toy, “monkey on a stick.”

“Monkey” Wrench

The most satisfactory suggestion for the meaning of “monkey,” as applied to wrenches (and other tools), comes from comments in a biographical sketch of Loring Coes, published during his lifetime, in 1904:

Henry W. Miller used to say that it was called “monkey” wrench because an Englishman by the name of Monkay made a wrench having an adjustable jaw, but requiring both hands for its application, and the transition from Monkay to “monkey” was very easy, but the student of mechanics must know that at least a dozen contrivances are labeled “monkey,” especially wherever a portion of the same can be easily moved upon the other, there being a suggestion of the monkey on a stick, that favorite toy of childhood.

“Worcester County Inventors,” George F. Hoar, The New England Magazine, N.S. Volume 31, Number 4, December 1904, page 490.

Monkey on a Stick

A “monkey on a stick” was a popular childrens’ toy for decades; inspiring several other figurative uses as well:

The Sweep.

“A life on the chimney top
    A home in the sooty flue,
Where the wind blows down the ‘cock,’
    And the sky a top shines blue.

Like a monkey on a stick,
    I pine on the dull tame ground,
O, give me the smell of brick,
    And the ashes a settlin’ round.”

Squatter Sovereign (Atchison, Kansas), October 23, 1855, page 1.

Up and Down. – The Commercial [(a newspaper)] during the whole progress of the war has enacted the part of a wooden-monkey attached to a stick, manipulated by a string in the hands of a small boy.  It has a penchant for climbing up and dropping down that has made it a wooden-monkey reputation.

Dayton Daily Empire, November 13, 1862, page 1.

Willie had a purple monkey climbing on a yellow, stick.
    And when he sucked the paint all off, it made him deathly sick;
And in his latest hours he clasped that monkey in his hand,
    And bid good-bye to earth and went into a better land.

Eaton Weekly Democrat (Eaton, Ohio), November 28, 1872, page 1.

As an amusing novelty, the beautiful person sometimes wears a brooch which represents a flexible gold monkey on a stick tipped with pearls; the animal is jointed and moves at will.

St. Paul Daily Globe, September 6, 1885, page 12.

A monkey on a stick also has some similarity to jockeys who stand up on short-stirrups and lean forward over the shoulders of a racehorse:

River Pirate was to-day a god colt and was ridden by Colburn in a new style, which worked well.  This is called in England the “monkey on a stick” style.[ix]

The San Francisco Call, October 17, 1903, page 9.

All of which does not prove that a “monkey on a stick” inspired the name, monkey wrench; but it at least illustrates that the “monkey on a stick” was sufficiently popular and well-known, so that it is plausible that it could have inspired the name monkey wrench.

The Cairo Bulletin (Cairo, Illinois), January 1, 1904

Puck, Christmas Puck for 1886, page 20.

Other “Monkey” Machines

Although I have not been able to find the “dozen contrivances” said to share the name, “monkey,” I was able to find a few; most notably, pile drivers and similar devices:

The machine is worked with high-pressure steam, which . . . raises the piston and ‘monkey.’  When the piston reaches the height intended, it shuts the induction . . . and the monkey falls.

John Weale, Rudimentary Dictinoary of Terms Used in Architecture, &c., London, J. Weale, 1850.

The term “monkey” was not limited to large, steam-powered pile drivers.  The term had earlier been used in manual pile-drivers, and was also applied to large and small devices that used a similar weight moving up and down, guided on a pole or between two supports.  The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, includes an entry for, “monkey-engine, a form of pile-driver having a monkey or ram moving in a wooden frame (Knight Dict. Mech. 1875).”  A how-to guide for making rockets or pyrotechnics described the use of a small, manually operated, “monkey machine,” that appears to operate under the same principle as a pile-driver:

To make them, erect a small monkey machine, two uprights . . . [a] piece of beech for monkey . . . sliding up and down between uprights . . . .  A ring and cord are fixed to monkey to raise it by the pulley, and a pin or other contrivance for keeping the monkey suspended when required.

William E. A. Axon, The Mechanic’s Friend, New York, 1875, page 292.

A technical encyclopedia described the process of drilling tube-wells:

The process of driving tube-wells resembled pile-driving, but with the distinction, that, while piles received the blows of the monkey on their heads, the tubes are not struck at all, the blow being communicated by the clamp, which receives the blow near the ground.

Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of Applied Mechanics, Volume 2 (G-Z), New York, Appleton & Co., 1882, page 928.

The following images illustrate the similarity between and among three types of monkey wrenches, a tube-well drilling apparatus, and a “monkey on a stick.”  The three representative wrenches, Hewet (1840)[x] (with rotating handle, similar to the English wrenches), Merrick (1835)[xi], and Coes (1841)[xii], each have a lower-jaw assembly grasping the shaft and moving up and down along the shaft, much like a “monkey on the stick.”  The tube-well drill has a weight, or “monkey,” supported by and moving up and down along a shaft, much like a “monkey on a stick.”  The “monkey on a stick” has a monkey that moves up and down along the shaft of a stick: 


It is nearly certain that Charles Moncky (or Monkay) of Brooklyn did not invent, coin, or inspire the term, monkey wrench; despite the actual existence of Charles Monk, the tool-maker from Brooklyn.  That story may have been fabricated as a joke, given his tool-related occupation and playing on the similarity of his last-name to the well-known wrench; or could have, I suppose, been an honest mistake made somewhere along the line.  In any case, he was too young to have been responsible for either the expression or the tool. 

The three general types of monkey wrench, English, Merrick and Coes, all share similarities with the children’s toy, “monkey on a stick.”  Pile-drivers, well-drillers, monkey engines and monkey machines also share similar attributes.  They all have a movable “monkey” that climbs up and down along shaft; like a monkey climbing a tree - or a “monkey on a stick.”  The theory is at least simple, consistent across several different contexts, and plausible. 

It is also (for what it's worth) the most sensible explanation I have seen.  It's possible.

You be the judge.


Post Script:

A reader mentioned that they had always assumed that the name came from the long handle, which made it look like this:

The Sentiment is shared by others: "This item, with its rounded head and 'twist the tail' (handle) to adjust the mouth feature, could easily inspire the image of a monkey." See, e.g., Page, Herb. (Fall 2005). Reach for the wrench: Vintage auto wrenches. The Fine Tool Journal, pg. 16-18. (Excerpt at

My sense is that whatever the initial impulse to name the wrench, the name may have stuck because it resonated in several ways; the "monkey" moves up and down the shaft, you twist the monkey's tail, it looks like a monkey, monkeys have a strong grip, and monkeys are funny.

[ii] “Worcester County Inventors,” George F. Hoar, The New England Magazine, N.S. Volume 31, Number 4, December 1904, page 490.
[iii] Michael Quinion's dates monkey wrench in the United States to "an issue of the Natchez Daily Courier for 1838."  The word may be even older.  Dave Wilton’s notes the term in, “a citation believed to be from 1807 that appears in E. S. Dane’s Peter Stubs & Lancashire Hand Tool Industry: Fleetwood, Richard…Parr, Rainford. Screw plates, lathes, clock engines…monkey wrenches, taps.  The book they cite, however, was published in 1973.  The “believed to be” caveat used for the excerpt relied on may be significant.  Merriam Webster’s online dictionary also lists the date of first use for monkey wrench as 1807; apparently based on the same source of unknown reliability.  The Oxford English Dictionary, 3nd Edition, marks the date with a question mark.
[iv] See, e.g. Francis Whishaw, The Railways of Great Britain and Ireland, Second Edition, London, John Weale, 1842, page 211; August Chevalier, Mémoire sur l'exploitation des chemins de fer anglais, Paris, Carilian-Goeury, 1847, page 36; Scribner’s Engineers’ and Mechanics’ Companion, New York, Huntington & Savage, 1849, page 201; Rules and Regulations to be Observed by the Officers and Men in the Employ of this Company, Hamilton, Ontario, Great Western Railway Company, 1858 page 42.
[v] The Power Plant, Volume 9, Number 1, January 1917, page 24.
[vi] New York Tribune, July 14, 1906, page 7.
[vii] Charles G. Washburn, Industrial Worcester, Worcester, The Davis Press, 1917.
[viii] A thorough discussion and exhaustive bibliography of tool-history sources can be found on the website of the Davistown Museum, a tool, art, and regional history museum located in Hull Cove Maine. See, e.g., “The Boston Wrench Group,”
[ix] The style was apparently pioneered in England by American Jockey, Tod Sloan, who caused a sensation in England in the late-1890s (“A ‘monkey on a stick’ is what the wise sporting writers called him, because he did not ride with long stirrups, sitting upright, as the English jockeys had been doing from time immemorial.”).   Tod Sloan was the inspiration for George M. Cohan’s play, Little Johnnie Jones, that introduced the song, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy;” the play helped popularize the expressions, “twenty-three” and “skidoo” in the mid-19-aughts (see my earlier post).
[x] US Patent 1659, June 27, 1840, Screw-Wrench, Henry W. Hewet.
[xi] US Patent 9030X, August 17, 1835, Wrench, Merrick.
[xii] US Patent 2054, April 16, 1841, Method of Constructing Screw-Wrenches, Loring Coes.
UPDATE: Updated May 7, 2022, to add the image of a "Monkey on a Stick" from Christmas Puck for 1886.